Tag Archives: work

Dear Diary

Over two years since I last blogged anything. So long in fact that WordPress is completely different. There’s some kind of weird block editor that I don’t understand. Why can’t I just write text in a huge box like I used to? 

Aha, installed a plugin to turn that off, and back to normal simple text input in a dialog box.  I guess they think people will only blog tiny missives these days, but I’m here for the epic long hall and the block editor does not suit!

This will be a rambling blog post with compressed and confused timelines, missing information, out of sync actions, and no conclusion.  You’re welcome.

There are always grades of discomfort, I think I might have blogged that before, and my life is easy compared to very many people in the world.  I don’t think I really understood privilege when I was blogging a lot a few years ago, but over the last couple of years or so I’ve come to understand it a lot better.   So I’m privileged, but as should be obvious, it doesn’t mean that shit doesn’t cause anxiety.  And so September, October and now November are the months that just keep on giving.  I’m blogging because I want to rant partly about work, and that means I can’t use Facebook (too many work colleagues), and I can’t use Twitter (240 characters).  So I need somewhere I can vent sure in the knowledge no one will ever read it, and so my personal blog seems like the perfect choice.  This is not going to be one of those posts where I focus on 3 good things and how lucky I am.  That’s never the person I’ve been.  I can’t fight against it really, I’ve always looked at the problems and thought about the issues, and that includes my own life.  It’s what made me excellent at my job in technical support, but it comes with a burden that it’s hard to see the good things amongst the broken.

I am, as anyone who’s read this blog will know, terrible at owning a house.  The last few months have tested that to the limit and continue to do so.  We noticed some woodlice in the corner of the dining room, we knew what it was, rotten wood, we just weren’t sure why.  But dealing with that takes energy, and the last three months have been low energy periods for us for several reasons.  So we didn’t deal with it straight away, and then it started preying on our minds, making it harder to sleep, consuming more spoons, adding more to the cup, whatever metaphor you prefer.  Eventually, Greté found enough energy to contact a handyman on Facebook, and it’s being handled.  Never as bad as you fear, but never as easy as you hope.  It’s half fixed, but now we’re waiting for some dry weather for the guy to finish the job (for which he’s already been paid).

There’s also a leak in our mains water supply.  A good few weeks back now we noticed that the cold water pipes were making a noise as if someone was running a tap.  Initially, I didn’t think much of it, but then I began to think about what it might imply before finally realising it probably meant a leak.  At first, I assumed it was in the house, and so I spent 3 hours one night, until 2am, because when else do you panic about this stuff than at 11pm before you go to bed, trying to find it.  There wasn’t anywhere in the house that obviously had any water leak.   I formed the view the leak was outside.  What followed was is rather frustrating.  We had a British Gas appointment to check the boiler anyway, and they provide plumbing repairs and quotes, so we asked them to also ‘check the plumbing’.  The guy who arrived thought he was only here to find a plumbing issue, Greté managed to get him to do the boiler service, and he agreed he thought the leak sounded like it was outside in the mains pipe.  He had another guy come the next day, from Dynorod (who I think British Gas own) to confirm that, and he did.  There was some confusion that included being told if we signed up to the extended home care agreement it would cover the problem.  So we signed up.  We them had an appointment scheduled for many weeks later for Dynorod to come and ‘find the leak’.  However, before that occurred, Dynorod called us to say it wouldn’t be covered because the cover only covered internal pipes.  Many furious conversations later didn’t provide any progress.  I then called our insurance company, but their ’emergency cover’ line told me because I’d already had a plumber look at it, they wouldn’t cover it, even though they literally just listened to a pipe.  Our regular buildings insurance doesn’t cover it (most likely) because it’s wear and tear.  But they advised us to ring Severn Trent first anyway, which we did.  About three weeks had passed now, with the sound of water leaking in to the ground present in the house all the time.  We also asked Dynorod to come and quote in case we needed them to do the repair.  A lovely lady at Dynorod rang us the day they were supposed to be here, to tell us they were running late and to berate us for getting them back when they said it wouldn’t be free.  I explained we were getting them back to quote, and that if they didn’t arrive soon we’d have to go out.  She told me she could quote and we never needed them to visit anyway, at which point I was pretty pissed off.  So, anything from £700 to £2000 depending on where the leak is, but that’s open ended if access proves hard.  Meanwhile, Severn Trent have now been twice, once to confirm it’s a leak (sounds like it), and once to put a boundary box outside the property, and a meter to measure the rate of loss.  Now however, upon ringing them today, they’re not sure what’s happened, who we may or may not be passed to, and what the status is.  So several weeks after first hearing the noise, we can still hear it, and there’s water leaking in to the ground somewhere between us and the mains.  It’s like water torture for real.

In Tesco car park, sometime in the last two months or so, it’s a blur, I was slowly reversing out of a parking bay when someone drove in to the back corner of the car.  Their passenger side front corner impacted my passenger side rear corner.  The insurance company didn’t even bother debating it, I was reversing so my fault.  I would maintain I checked, it was clear, I reversed slowly, and someone travelling too quickly drove in to the car.  However, I’m now £300 worse off (excess) and we’ll see what it does to the premium.  First insurance accident claim we’ve ever made, since Greté started driving in 1997ish.  Not a big deal, but I’ve never had to deal with car insurance companies, and my natural ‘must follow the rules to the letter’ behaviour gets in the way when those rules are fucking unclear and contradictory.  Just another spoon theft I don’t need.

Fizz has been unwell for a few months now.  She had full on heart failure a while back and we got to her to the vets and essentially saved her life.  Since then, we’ve been extra vigilant, as you might imagine, and are managing her thyroid issue, and several other conditions.  Over the past month though she’s had another serious health scare, and a couple of periods of extreme lethargy, including yesterday.  We felt we might lose her overnight, but this morning she seemed brighter.  We took her to the vets at 6pm today though, to be safe, and they’ve kept her in overnight for more tests.  She may be anaemic which has many possible causes.  She’s 16, and we’ll need to think carefully about how we manage her quality of life in the face of any new challenges.

Work is bitter-sweet.  There’s some good news coming for me personally, a new challenge, new opportunity, but it’s amid a complex, ego-driven, murky, cost-saving-focussed organisational battle.  People are burning out, and being burned out.  I look around and wonder if this is what failing organisations look like, but we refuse to believe it.  Or maybe I’m just more exposed to it now that I have an increased level of involvement in senior management.  Who knows.  I still manage to leave it behind when I get home, for the most part, which is a bonus over the job I had before, and some days it’s so terrible it’s truly funny and easy to rise above.  But I hate when people suffer, and I see a lot of suffering, and some days it saps energy I need to use to be taking care of Greté and the shit above.  When work consumes too many spoons, the balance is broken.

Greté continues to suffer at the hands of the DSS, in parallel to suffering at the hands of her health issues, one of which is literally suffering of her hands.  Around this time last year we got the regular invite to fill in the WCA form, which we duly did, and we waited.  We got an appointment in January for the face to face assessment,  and then last minute it was cancelled.  Apparently, they didn’t have ‘anyone with the specialist skill required to assess her’.  Okay, at least they were honest.  We waited for a new appointment.  And waited.  And waited.  And finally in September, we received this,

Your appointment at 2.45pm on Thursday 17th JANUARY has been rescheduled for Monday 16th of SEPTEMBER

Literally nine months.  Greté called them on the Friday before to ensure the recording equipment was available as instructed, to be told that it was being rescheduled because they’d got the booking wrong and hadn’t lined up a doctor.  For. Fucks. Sake.  They moved it to October 8th, making it nearer to ten months since the original invite and pretty much 11 months since we’d filled in the original WCA.  In that eleven months, Greté’s health has gotten worse, and medication has changed, and and and …

Anyway, we attended, the assessment went ahead, the audio recording equipment (actual C90 tapes) failed just over half way through but we got through it.  Ultimately, on October 24th Greté received the notice that she’d been placed (kept) in the ESA Support Group.  That’s the group that means you do not need to seek employment to continue receiving the ‘benefit’.  No indication of when that will be reviewed next, when we have to start that whole dehumanising process all over again, but it’s done for now.

Tragically, we won’t soon forget the date Greté got that news (which is bitter-sweet in and of itself).  It was also the day we found out that our dear friend, Lynda, had passed away overnight.

We’ve known Lynda for a long time, and I’ll keep personal details out of this entirely to maintain her dignity.  She lived with and in-spite of multiple serious medical conditions, she gave no quarter, she smiled and never stopped.  She didn’t fight her illness, nor lose to it, she rose above it in life knowing the inevitable conclusion.  We will miss her forever.

None of these issues individually are unmanageable.  Some are tragic and heart breaking, some are annoying, some are frustrating.  But at the same time, grouped together, with some of them being a constant nagging worry / fear, sapping energy and spoons, they’re impacting both mine and Greté’s mental health in ways neither of us need.

We’ll be okay, we’ll get through.  I have a good credit rating, there’s equity in the property, the vets are looking after Fizz, and we’ll be able to handle anything which transpires, but fuck me it feels hard sometimes.

Where have I been?

I’ve been spending a lot less time in front of the computer at home over the last few months.  That means almost no time in Lord of the Rings Online and not much blogging going on (among other things).  The reasons are many and varied.  Using the PS3 and XBox360 a lot more (Dragon Age on the PS3, Mass Effect 2 on the XBox360, among other things).  Dragon Age especially is a huge time sink.  Partly it’s because I finally got sick of sitting at the PC all day at work – and then doing the same when I got home.  That’s probably because what I was doing on the PC at home wasn’t really engaging my brain enough though to keep me occupied.

I’m probably the luckiest guy alive, I have very few responsibilities that cause me any grief, I have an amazing wife who’s just as much a gamer as I am (computers, roleplaying, larp, board games), and so while many people settle down to an evening of TV, we often settle down to an evening of games of various kinds.  It’s just that at the moment, those games are not in front of the computer.  I’m also trying to get back into (again) painting miniatures, keeping a dedicated space in the house set aside for it so I can paint when the whim takes me rather than having to dig stuff out.  We’ll see how that works out.

The net result is that I’m not sitting in front of a browser all the time and so when I think up the random crap I used to blog about I either tweet a 140 character approximation of it, or I just chuckle evilly to myself and then shoot some more bad guys.  I’m pretty sure everything will go full circle, and when the next batch of new content for LotRO is released I’ll be back in game and at the PC.

Turn and face the strange

There are a lot of things going on at the moment, a lot of potential and certain change.  For some people change is great, for some, and that includes me, change is unsettling at the least and very stressful at worst.

I’m on the verge of finally starting to learn to drive.  Maybe I’ll pass my test before I’m 40.  Just need to get a photo signed (got them taken today), get the ID back and actually arrange the lessons, but I’m in the right place mentally which I’ve not really been before.  Mostly it’s thanks to Grete for sorting out the hassle that I can never be bothered to deal with.  I’m actually, if I let myself think about it, looking forward to it, but let’s keep that a secret for now.

My employer is currently going through a round of redundancies.  I’m included in the ‘in scope’ pool.  So there’s a fair amount of uncertainty from that.  Won’t really know where I stand personally for another few weeks.

Add in to that mix that I’m changing roles at work as well.  It’s not been formally announced yet and so I’m not going to give any detail here, but I’m staying in the same bit of the company and hence still ‘in-scope’ (see above), but moving to a different role.  No definite timescales as of yet.  That’s the big change I tweeted about a short while back – once it’s been formally announced at work, I’ll provide an update.

And of top of all of that, and I’m not sure how many folk will understand / care, I’ve taken on the role of Control for the uk.* usenet hierarchy.  Voluntary position, and different people probably have different views about how much of a concern it should be, but for me it’s a big deal, and I intend to carry out the role as well as I can which brings it’s own level of change and stress.  I’m proud to have been offered the position.

A couple of other minor things, and there’s a big stirring pot of change going on right now.

On the road (kinda)

So I’m in a hotel in Winchester on a course for work. The hotel caters to businesses so they provide broadband in the rooms. You just have to pay 30pence per minute! There’s a cap on the total cost which I guess they hope business users will just accept and claim back, but in the current climate I wonder how many do.

Luckily the iPhone gives me more ways than ever of being in touch without needing a real net connection. The battery life is still the main issue though.

Why do hotel TVs always have the colour settings so high everyone looks orange, I can actually hear anyone dressed in red it’s that bright.

I’m missing the first few days of the new Lord of the Rings Online expansion while I’m down here which is making me feel like a member of Felicia Day’s The Guild web series.

Vay Kay Shon

So, I’m off work for two weeks!  Other than being prodded by the NHS, no real plans.  It’s been a rough three weeks at work, covering a lot of call out, being the person in the office who gets asked all the questions you don’t want to get asked, but I survived, just.  It seems to be a common issue in March with lots of people taking holiday.  Last year was similar I remember.

It’ll take me a few days to get over it all and really relax.  The oddest thing happens first though – I get really down and pretty angry with the whole world, which is where I am today.  I’m lucky that Grete understands and doesn’t get too pissed off at me.

So a few days of this feeling and then I’ll be able to enjoy not being at work.

Got my letter this morning saying the blood test results are in, but doesn’t list what they are.  I may find out at the nurse appointment or I may need to ring the doctor.  I’m sort of hoping the bit where it said ‘this appointment is non-urgent’ means they don’t think my medication needs reviewing and hence the results are okay, but that may just be wishful thinking.

I really am not a nice person to be around when I’m in this kind of mood, I think Tracey may regret her choice of weekend for visiting.  Ah well.

Zombie Plague Brain Mush Mish Mash

Not a new set of figures, but in fact, how my head feels.  Back at work after a period of holiday always means my energy levels take a beating initially, add on to that the problems I’ve had with Gradwell hosting since Friday last week (fix going in tonight in theory) and I’ve not really written that much other than painting updates for a little while.

I’m behind on the movie memories posts too, I had four lined up straight off the bat to post once a week, but they’ve all posted now and there’s nothing ready to go out this week, so I need to get a few of those written up again ahead of time.  The last (or possibly penultimate depending on whether I decide to base her or not) Sasha diary post is ready to go out after some spelling changes.

Grete has a bunch of Pocket Dragon figures which have been exposed to the world (or rather, this room) for a long time now, and we were thinking of maybe getting a glass cabinet for them and any miniatures I paint that I feel proud of enough to display.  Anyone got any advice on cleaing Pocket Dragons?  I was thinking maybe just q-tips and soapy water, but wondered if there was anything better.  Don’t want to ruin the surface of them.

Indy IV

It’s odd, we watched Indy IV on DVD yesterday and … it wasn’t as annoying as I remember it, and was actually more like Indy than I recall.  I was pretty generous in my review originally, and I had some real doubts about the whole alien plot but actually watching it again, it bears up very well in a second viewing and it’s not as totally dumb in places as I remember.

There are some truly pointless moments (why do the monkies follow Mud and attack the Russian woman, I assume because of the skull in some way but it’s not really clear, why do interdimensional beings need a spaceship, etc.) but really it’s a pretty solid Indy movie.  I wonder what it is about second viewings that make movies seem better?  Maybe like music they have to grow on you?  Maybe because you know what’s coming you get a chance to actually watch more of the supporting action?  Who knows, this is almost a duplicate of my Hell Boy II post a few days ago, because it’s exactly the same feeling.

Anyway.  Back at work this week, on call as well (including New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day) but it’s pretty quiet in the office so plenty of chance to get all the admin type stuff out of the way and catch up with various bits that didn’t get done before Christmas.

Eight days until pay day, and we can see how much money we have to pay off the Visa bill that built up in November and December (dentist, christmas, etc.)  Things are pretty tight until we see where we are early in January.  I’m looking forward more than usual to not paying Council Tax in February and March, that extra £109 is always useful but this year it could be critical.

So fingers crossed.

No Connection

No Internet connectivity from work today due to a mess-up with a user ID expiring.  I managed to survive though.

In the car on the way in this morning I thought up a couple of story directions for the NaNoWriMo story, which is hopeful.

Grete’s absolutely terrible today, both a cold and some kind of sickness bug it would seem.  I’ll be working from home as much as possible this week.

Good quote

Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for – in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.

Ellen Goodman
American journalist (1941 – )

Moptimism

moptimism (noun):

  1. the tendency to take the most hopeful view in all matters first thing on Monday morning, for around 2 hours before the reality of working for a living kicks in.

noun: moptimist
adjective: moptimistic
advern: moptimistically